Top Hiking Trails of Houston

June 14, 2022

dog hiking in Houston

Summer and all of the outdoor activities it has to offer are finally here! For those of you who enjoy hiking with your pup, we have compiled a list of the best trails around the Houston area with beautiful scenery and other fun activities along the way.

dog walking at Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park is a huge, 1500 acre park inside the inner west loop and highway I-10. The park has 18 trails split among the 5 divisions of the park, totaling 25 miles of trails! The trails range in length and difficulty, with the longest hard trail stretching 2.2 miles and the shortest easy trail measuring 0.12 miles. The surfaces alternate between natural and handicap accessible gravel paths. Training Graduate Roxie is pictured above near the newest addition to the park “The Everglades”. At the southwest corner, you’ll find the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center that has lakes and ponds, provides tours, and has its own dog friendly trails. Other Memorial Park activities include the Hogg bird sanctuary, golf course, and a sports complex. The park also hosts many events throughout the year!

Open 6am-11pm. Biking allowed on most trails, see website for details.

dog hiking at Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park

As you can see, Roxie has toured and approves of many of Houston’s trails! Next we follow her to Buffalo Bayou Park. It is located in the heart of Houston, between Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway. Being in one of the most populated parts of town, this 160 acre park has a myriad of attractions along its 10 miles of trails, such as Johnny Steele Dog Park, Waugh Bat Colony, and the Lost Lake. They also have kayak and canoe rentals if the flowing Bayou calls your name! Every step along the path has gorgeous nature scenes to get lost in.

Lighted areas open 6am-11pm, others dawn to dusk, specific attractions may have differing hours. Biking allowed on most trails, see website for details.

White Oak Bayou Park
*Image courtesy of Houston Parks Board website

White Oak Bayou Trail

This 17 mile trail extends from the north tip of TC Jester Blvd and travels all the way down to meet Buffalo Bayou, and is entirely paved! Along the route you’ll come across many parks: Hogg Park, Stude Park, T.C. Jester Park, Watonga Parkway Park, and White Oak Park. T.C. Jester has many human activities, but also has a dog park! One of the largest bat colonies can be viewed in the evening at Watonga Parkway Park. These trails could take you multiple weekends to explore everything they have in store.

Biking allowed throughout.

Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail
*Image courtesy of Harris County Precinct 3 website

Terry Hershey Park and Hike and Bike Trail

Terry Hershey is a long, branching park that sits along the Katy freeway with multiple points for parking. There are just over 11 miles of trails winding across the 500 acres of the park. Along them, you’ll have plenty of benches to pause and take the day in. In the main section of the park, you can try out the interactive sundial with your own shadow, view the bat houses and orchards, or let the kids get their energy out by playing on the jungle gyms and kid fit park! If the heat of the gulf coast city leaves you sweaty, stop by one of two runner’s showers before returning home!

Open 7am-10pm. Biking allowed throughout.

Sims Bayou Greenway
*image courtesy of Houston Parks Board website

Sims Bayou Greenway

While Sims Bayou Greenway’s trail is only 6.9 miles long today, it has big plans. The Bayou Greenways 2020 project plans to extend the fully-paved path to a full 20 miles for Houstonians to traverse. Currently, you can visit Glenbrook Park with its own trails, and have quick access to the Houston Botanic gardens and Houston Audubon Raptor & Education Center. Once completed, you’ll be able to walk, run, or bike all the way to the Houston Sports Park! This up and coming pathway will be one to keep your eye on as the city expands it.

Biking allowed throughout.

Up for a Road Trip?

The next 3 trails are outside of the greater Houston area, but have sights that shouldn’t be missed if your walking dog also enjoys being your car buddy, or if you need a change of venue for the weekend. 

Galveston Island State Park
*image courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife website

Galveston Island State Park 

(Galveston, TX, 1hr from Downtown)

Galveston Island State Park is a whopping 2,000 acres of stunning coastal ecosystem. There are over 4 miles of trails traveling through beaches, prairies, and wetlands of Texas’s shores. Many different species of wildlife can be spotted; Look for raccoons, armadillos, marsh rabbits, shore and wading birds. (Bird watchers – there have been over 300 different species recorded in the area!) After a day hopefully filled with Poseidon’s luck, fishers can use the cleaning station to finish the job. Along with walking and biking trails, this park also has paddling trails. Round-trip, you can canoe or kayak for over 6 miles. If you decide this park would be ideal to stay at for the weekend, you can either set up your own tent at the beach and bay campgrounds, or you can utilize the rentable lodges if you like to escape the elements while you and your pup slumber.

Open 7am-10pm. Bikes allowed throughout.

Sam Houston National Forest
*Image courtesy of USDA Forest Service website

Sam Houston National Forest 

(New Waverly, TX, 1hr from Downtown)

The Sam Houston National Forest is our largest set of trails on the list. The forest covers 163,000 acres, and the trails themselves total 128 miles! There are 3 major sections and 85 miles of multi-use trails for biking, hiking, horseback riding. Such space gives lots of room for outdoor amenities. Within the park you can access lakes for swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Find a scenic space off the path that would look great under the stars or provide a beautiful sunrise? Feel free to set up camp right there! Off-trail camping is permitted, and only restricted to the campgrounds during deer hunting season.

See website for information on biking and multi-use trails.

Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
*image courtesy of Austin Texas website

Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail 

(Austin, TX, 3hrs from Downtown)

This 10 mile trail goes around the Capitol city’s Lady Bird Lake, a part of the Colorado River that flows just south of downtown Austin. There are many parks, shores, and beaches bordering the trail. Zilker park and Auditorium shores will be the main attraction for your dog, both are off leash spaces! The area also has water activities like kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The trails ensure everything you need with rest areas, drinking fountains, showers, and fitness stations. Next time you plan a trip to central Texas, Austin could be the perfect intermediate place for an outdoorsy feel with the ease of city living!

Bikes allowed throughout.

Wherever you go out with your pet this summer, remember to have fun, stay cool, and stop to sniff the flowers. We’re sure your pup will remind you!